Citing lack of interest in an all-women’s school in rural Virginia at full-price tuition, the board of directors of Sweet Briar College announced March 3 that the college will close at the end of this academic year. My heart goes out to Sweet Briar students during the challenging transition that they now face following the school’s planned closure. With a history dating back to its founding in 1901 and a $85 million endowment, it’s no wonder the announcement caught students by surprise.
Once their lives are back on course, I urge these students to read a new book, “The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere,” by Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at New America, to help them make sense of what is happening. While these students have been dealt a difficult hand, they might just be on the cutting edge of a major change in higher education. Even in closing, the school offers these students and future students of higher education an important lesson: American universities and colleges, many of which have been around for more than a century, are not immune to market forces. The current higher education model needs reform. Universities and students should prepare for and be open to a major shake-up ahead.